Long Run can silence doubters

LONG RUN can silence the doubters and land back-to-back Cheltenham Gold Cups at Prestbury Park this afternoon.

He has been beaten this season by a rejuvenated Kauto Star at both Haydock and in the King George at Kempton which has raised concerns, at least in some quarters, that he is not quite as good as he was.

But they were just trial races and his trainer, Nicky Henderson, has shown this week just what a master he is at having his charges spot-on when it really matters.

Long Run got back on the winning trial at Newbury last month, producing a workmanlike display to beat Burton Port by a hard-earned half a length.

The performance certainly didn’t satisfy the purists, but it is well to remember he was conceding his stable companion 10lbs. That was Burton Port’s first outing since taking second to Diamond Harry in the Hennessy at Newbury in November of 2010 and he has to be respected.

Kauto Star will be attempting to win this for a third time and he has made a remarkable return to something close to his best this season. The now 12 year-old was simply irresistible when winning the Betfair at Haydock and Kempton’s King George, but it remains to be seen whether he has suffered any psychological damage, following his fall when schooling indoors at Nicholls’ Ditcheat base.

Synchronised handled good ground surprisingly well when landing the Lexus at Leopardstown at Christmas, but whether that defeat of Rubi Light is good enough remains to be seen.

To win the Gold Cup you have to stay every yard of the trip and relish the final punishing climb to the line.

Long Run revelled in the exacting test a year ago and looks best equipped to respond to all of the questions which will need to be answered.

Boston Bob can justify the hopes many of us have for him by landing the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.

There was much surprise when Willie Mullins finally announced this as his target, in preference to Wednesday’s Neptune Novices’ Hurdle. But it may prove to have been a wise decision, in the light of a brilliant display by Simonsig in that contest.

Boston Bob has gone from strength to strength at home, culminating in a decent effort at Leopardstown when giving subsequent winner, Lyreen Legend, 10lbs and a two and a quarter lengths beating.

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